Enchanted by Logos. Gorgias and the Problem of Language

Carolina Ferraro

Gorgias certainly is a triumph in linguistic rhetoric: he portraits the ambiguous relationship between human beings and the knowledge of reality. Following his works, the Logos does not produce any objective or absolute, but obscure knowledge. Th e Logos is not characterized by truth, but rather by the ability to persuade and deceive others, to convince others using the art of rhetoric. Th is fact composes the core of the metalinguistic attitude, which characterizes Gorgias’ texts. Since the Logos in Gorgias does not seek absolute truth, it creates diff erent truths, such as illusions for platonians, skeptic material, rhetoric or similar exercises. Th e analysis of the three main Gorgian works on Helen, Palamede and PTMO, are read and observed prevalently through language; they are discussed not just in a rhetorical or logical sense, but are anatomized in search for continuity in a bigger project: the “Gorgian Pragmatism”. Th is Pragmatism is a philosophy which advises us to embrace those beliefs we fi nd most functional for us. While knowledge cannot be an agreement between the external world and human perception, Gorgias lays out another way to conceive this problem, which lies inside language. In fact, language in itself is considered as the main subject for its power and use. We could say that the reality of language is the only reality we might talk about, as the nucleus of substance which characterizes human beings. Many philosophers have tried to approach the problem of Sophists, and rehabilitated them aft er a long history of discredit, maintaining the purpose of the research searching for a peculiar philosophical content and a contribution for the posterity. I believe Gorgias can reveal, at each level of his discourse, a theory of rhetorical arrangement aimed at clarification of the problem of language in human activity.

DOI: 10.37240/AHFiMS.2020.65.10


Keywords: Sophistry · rhetoric · logos · paradoxes · epistemology · persuasion · demon-stranda · pragmatism

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